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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lembcke, Abraham, Win Madison Commission Seats

Madison voters have spoken... well, at least a few of them have. A measly 11% of my neighbors braved the sunshine and 60-degree temps to head downtown and mark a box or two. The unofficial results, as reported by the Madison Daily Leader:
  1. Karen Lembcke: 332 (56.7%)
  2. Nick Abraham: 291 (49.7%)
  3. Myron Downs: 284 (48.5%)
  4. Mike McGowan: 184 (31.4%)
Now Myron came within two percentage points of Nick, so under state law (SDCL 9-13-27.3), Myron can ask for a recount. Don't expect him to do it, though. I'm thinking Myron will take the same low-intensity approach to defeat that he takes to campaigning and let it lie.

But seven votes: that's close! That slim margin may reflect the first victory of Web campaigning in local politics. Abraham has a Facebook page, and he used it to remind his friends to get out and vote. Some of his friends didn't even know there was an election ("commissioner of what?"). If even 2% of his 400-plus-person network checked Facebook, saw Nick's reminder, and said, "Oh, yeah! Election day! I better go vote for Nick," boom! That's your margin of victory.

To paraphrase an anonymous commenter: Why would a 30-year-old man have a Facebook page? To help win an election.

Perhaps surprisingly, the final order matches the final poll conducted here at the Madville Times
Madville Times poll, 2009.04.13–14
(Hey, try often enough, you're bound to get at least one right!) I also note with some pleasure that at least one of my endorsees got a seat! A Madville Times endorsement isn't the kiss of death after all.

But the status quo did win, as Karen Lembcke was sent back for another term of cheering on the LAIC and its closed-door activities while Main Street declines and our unemployment rate goes more than double that of Brookings. How well will Abraham fit into this status quo? Will he be a strong, independent voice for his blue-collar constituency? Or will he be brought to heel by a commission stacked with Chamber of Commerce types?

Being an effective commissioner requires teamwork, an ability to communicate, and, when necessary, a willingness to go along to get along (please understand how much it galls me to say that last part). But the best commissioners also have the courage to question, criticize, and change the status quo. Madison needs leaders who can play both sides of that equation.

As I said at Rotary Monday, being a team player doesn't mean saying yes all the time. The best team players hold their team accountable.

As a test of Abraham's mettle: watch how he deals with the LAIC. Let's see if he'll call for conditioning LAIC funding on concrete and transparent performance measures, just like Pierre does. Oh, and let's see if he starts a blog!


  1. Here are some baseball numbers: Lemke,4=Homerun. Abraham,3=Triple. Downs,2=Double. McGowen,1=Single.

    Cory, this only means you have 2 years untill the next election. You could sell your house, move to town, and run for city commission. With that big burr under your saddle about the LAIC you could win and change the world. Or could you? Heck I will sign your petition. Ok, there is your challenge.

  2. The sad thing is the vast majority of people don't even know what the LAIC is or care. They also see the commission as too low on the totem pole to be concerned, yet city and county decisions really do impact us in substantial and personal ways.

  3. Sell my house, give up a huge garden and view of the lake, pay city rates for building permit and utilities... Anon doesn't expect much. ;-)

    But send me your name and address, Anon; you never know when I might need a petition signature.

  4. I still would like to see the Main Street Program or something similar to it implemented in Madison. We need to strengthen our downtown with renovation, parking and safety issues and prepare it for decades of future growth. Although many young people have left our community, those who have stayed have a vested interest in seeing Madison grow and flourish for future generations. We know what Madison needs, but do those in power have the gumption to push toward those goals?

  5. I'll get stoned for this suggestion, but how about allowing a Walmart to come to town? It seems that anytime a Walmart is put up, it attracts more businesses and growth. OK, I'll duck for the stones.

  6. In their eyes I don't think we are big enough for a Walmart. Pamida would close immediately and probably Lewis. I wrote a letter to HyVee begging them to come a couple years but they said they have many expansion plans not including Madison. Personally I think we need a better grocery store before other things. A main street development program could encourage some specialty shops and help round out our retail needs.

  7. Cory;
    You have every right to your opinion. You just need to be ready to back up your views. If you believe in them strongly enough, giving up your lake view and garden spot should only be minor. You can grow a garden in town.

    Anon 7:55

  8. Sorry, Anon: I have a hyperdeveloped sense of place. You really don't know the full magnitude of what you're asking. Suffice it to say, it's not minor.

  9. We don't need any more specialty shops or dollar stores. What we need is Walmart! The smaller towns down south have Walmart Express type stores. Why not this?

  10. Walmart Grocery Express is being looked at for Madison between Montgomery's and Lewis. Their delivery trucks go to Brookings, Huron, Mitchell and Watertown, so Madison is a natural stop, but it won't be full WalMart so local stores can still flourish. Would be good competition.

  11. Wow! That would be a great start!

  12. "You have every right to your opinion. You just need to be ready to back up your views. If you believe in them strongly enough, giving up your lake view and garden spot should only be minor. You can grow a garden in town."

    And if you express views about Obama, do you feel obligated to run for president? Sorry, but opinions--and the free expression thereof--are backed by evidence and the Bill of Rights.

    Oh, and I've spent an awful lot of time and muscle on my spectacular 1,500-square-foot garden. Not a snowball's chance we're giving that up!


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